Kurayami Monogatari

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Mai Kuraki – Winter Bells June 30, 2009

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 12:21 am
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winterbells

Track Listing

  1. Winter Bells
  2. thankful
  3. always -Gomi’s Lair Club Mix- (Radio Edit)
  4. Winter Bells ~Instrumental~

1. Winter Bells

I’m not sure why the song starts out in the studio with some guy talking…anyways, whenever someone would ask me name a song that reminds me of Mai Kuraki, Winter Bells comes up first because well, it’s so joyous and giddy in a good way.  Mai’s vocals are a bit soft-spoken, but I love this song too much for my own good.  She chose a great song to be an A-side IMO

2. thankful

thankful is of course the ballad of the single and sadly it’s terribly bland.  I mean it’s got piano and a light R&B sound going on and well, you can’t get any more unoriginal after this.  It does gradually get better and more musically better as well…but ~I’m so sankful?!?~ whoa Mai-K, fix your English please xD

 

 

Mai-K does her self good here with Winter Bells, the overly fun and joyous winter song and thank god it wasn’t a ballad….thankful was that and I quite hated it for sure….not the most original track she’s done, but I know she can do better for sure.

 

Mai Kuraki – Beautiful June 7, 2009

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 3:07 am
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beautifulmai

Track Listing

  1. Beautiful
  2. wana
  3. Beautiful -instrumental-

1. Beautiful

Beautiful is definitly a mood switcher from the last single, “PUZZLE/Revive”.  It’s quite nice to hear something so calm from Mai-K here and now.  There’s definitly a nod to her pasr R&B tracks and I kind of like this and how it overall sounds.  There’s just something about it that is nice and soothing.  I got to say, this was a pretty good A-side.

2. wana

wana is more like the alternate side of R&B with a more upbeat sound and heavy synth usage.  It actually reminds me of “PUZZLE” and that might not be such a good thing.  Well, there is a positive thing about it and there’s no random guy bothering the song up.  What’s more nice is the piano was also used in the song which made things a bit more unique.  Awesome song.

 

 

Mai-K actually released a better single than her last with “Beautiful”.  The A-side is a relaxing calm pop track that Mai always gets right especially with the beach-like PV that came along with it.  wana was slick and quite sexy at points and I’m surprised because she rarely has these kind of songs as B-sides.  Sweet single and good to end the era for her best-of album

 

Mai Kuraki – Can’t forget your love/PERFECT CRIME -Single Edit- May 8, 2009

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 2:05 am
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cantforgetyourlove

Track Listing

  1. Can’t forget your love
  2. PERFECT CRIME -Single Edit-
  3. PERFECT CRIME ~DJ ME-YA URBAN BEAT BOX REMIX~
  4. Can’t forget your love (Instrumental)
  5. PERFECT CRIME -Single Edit- (Instrumental)

1. Can’t forget your love

I was a bit surprised to finally hear Mai-K finally leave the saddening sounds of the R&B style she was using.  Instead we get a very simple ballad that has twinkly feelings going throughout.  Then my thoughts are dashed as the song gets a shuffling sound…ugh…she should’ve kept the ballad sound going.  Mai’s vocals are pretty sweet and she’s softer than she normally is which makes the song more nice.  It’s actually pretty good, better than her last few A-sides.

2. PERFECT CRIME -Single Edit-

I really loved PERFECT CRIME from the last album, and to see it basically revamped on this single made me happy.  The edit is actually pretty minor, I think it’s because the beginning is actually now muffled which is pretty rad.  The songs arrangement is a lot darker than her normal releases of songs and this was pretty awesome.  Definitly worthy to have been an A-side ^_^

 

 

Mai-K’s first single of the “FAIRY TALE” era was a great start for the era.  The first A-side was a little typical, but Mai progressed well enough to make the song pop and was a pretty nice ballad.  PERFECT CRIME though was a cool addition even though it isn’t on the album for obvious reasons.  Still I was impressed by the single.

 

Mai Kuraki – PUZZLE/Revive March 29, 2009

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 2:20 am
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Track Listing

  1. PUZZLE
  2. Revive
  3. THE ROSE ~melody in the sky~ “Live Rehearsal Session”
  4. PUZZLE -instrumental-
  5. Revive -instrumental-

1. PUZZLE

I don’t think I would’ve believed Mai to pull something like this.  I mean it starts with a door shutting and something rapping with Mai.  There’s a lot of synth in this song…moreso than a bunch of other tracks.  I think she could’ve done without the guy, but this song is definitly super and one of the memorable ones.

2. Revive

Revive though simply brings some more life into the single by sounding latin once again.  I’ve always liked her latin tracks and Revive does not disappoint at all.  It might be a little bland in originality and it might just be a little boring, but I can’t resist getting up and dancing along with the song.

3. THE ROSE ~melody in the sky~ “Live Rehearsal Session”

Remember this track from Mai’s sophomore album, “PERFECT CRIME”?  Well, I do since I reviewed that last, hahaha.  If you remember, THE ROSE is a short track over 2 minutes and featured all English lyrics.  Instead of the cute strings and such, it’s replaced with an all-out acoustic feel and Mai obviously resang this as well because her English has definitly gotten better with this song and she sounds real nice.  Great touch on an old song.

 

 

Yes!  Mai-K’s first single of the new era kicked things off great.  PUZZLE was definitly fresh and surprisingly really good especially after “touch Me!” this was great.  Revive was alright, maybe a little too easy to guess but good otherwise and going back to revisit an older track and make it better was amazing.  It isn’t the perfect single, but it’s really good.

 

Mai Kuraki – Stand Up December 23, 2008

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 6:47 am
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250px-stand_up

Track Listing

  1. Stand Up
  2. Double Rainbow
  3. YES or NO ~TRANCE Continental Remix~
  4. Stand Up ~Instrumental~

1. Stand Up

Finally, something that makes me relike Mai-K again.  Stand Up is what you call an upbeat track, maybe summery perhaps?  Mai sounds like she’s definitly letting loose and having a lot of fun.  There are BKGD vocals this time around and they harmonize alright and Mai even though she sounds a little stuffy, she sounds otherwise fine.  Another breakout track from her.

2. Double Rainbow

In some respects, this was quite obvious.  It’s another one of Mai-K’s questionable ballad tracks.  It’s weird that the verses has her singing so quietly that it’s barely audible and gets loud in the chorus which is quite nice calm and shows Mai having more control.  It’s an alright track thought, I’ll give it that.  Oh yea the BKGD vocals helping in the chorus sucks so much because they warp their notes terribly.

3. YES or NO ~TRANCE Continental Remix~

Why am I featuring this track you ask?  Well, the original has not been seen on an actual single nor an album, which surprises me.  I think it was an analog release or something along those lines which intrigued me.  The remix sounds like a MELL track which is beyond strange for me.  Mai’s singing is quite cool with this style and how she holds her notes are crazy good.  This is a remix though, so the music is more important than Mai so it’s alright to dance to.

 

 

Mai, you finally won me back with this single.  Stand Up was a great acoustically driven pop track and Double Rainbow was a nice ballad and the remix isn’t too horrible for being for a track that hasn’t seen the day of light in her official discography. 

 

 

Mai Kuraki – 24 Xmas time November 23, 2008

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 4:34 pm
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24xmastime

Track Listing

  1. 24 Xmas time
  2. All I want
  3. 24 Xmas time (Remix)
  4. 24 Xmas time -instrumental-
  5. All I want -instrumental-

1. 24 Xmas time

Mai-K and christmas tunes go hand in hand, because her last winter A-side “Winter Bells” was definitly one of my favorite J-pop Christmas songs and to see that she did it again made me happy.  24 Xmas time is upbeat and carries a more apparant R&B sound.  The problem is that she actually returns to this R&B that she’s been trying to get away of somewhat.  There’s a rapper as well in the song, and he’s alright but not the best.

2. All I want

All I want is the winter ballad of the single.  The lack of anything except piano and acoustics does seem pretty bland, but Mai’s voice is so sweet and lovely to hear.  She doesn’t get too crazy with the vocals which she has done before.  I’ve said this to many artists, but I also feel Mai-K has pushed with too many ballads.  So they start to become less memorable by each release, so I’m fearing this’ll also be forgotten.

3. 24 Xmas time (Remix)

I’m not sure why you’d need to remix a christmas tune, but I guess this track has been done.  The remix has a heavier R&B atmosphere, but it’s still basically the same track as above.  I did find the beats to be a little overbearing and it kind of messed up the holiday feeling the song was supposed to bring.  I guess my hopes weren’t too high for this.

 

 

Mai’s holiday single is alright, but it doesn’t hold a candle to “Winter Bells” for sure.  I guess it’s kind of strange to see Mai-K going back to her roots for the single because the song has such an R&B sound to it.  The B-side is alright, but it’ll get old pretty quickly.  Remix wasn’t needed, but I guess it’s needed. 

 

Mai Kuraki – Tsumetai Umi/Start in my life November 8, 2008

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 7:00 am
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250px-tsumetai_umi_7e_start_in_my_life

Track Listing

  1. Tsumetai Umi
  2. Start in my life
  3. NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP ~Never Never Land mix one~
  4. Tsumetai Umi ~Instrumental~
  5. Start in my life ~Instrumental~

1. Tsumetai Umi

A slower R&B track covers the first part of the double A-side package and I actually like this.  Even though I still consider Hikki over Mai, she actually does pretty well this time.  The song doesn’t bore me and the shuffling beat is quite catchy even though its typical.  The only think that bothered me was how thin she got hitting the high notes in the chorus. 

2. Start in my life

Sadly, I can’t say the same for the other A-side.  It reminds me too much of “Reach for the sky”  I mean it’s practically at the same tempo if not faster.  I guess Mai-K sounds a lot better controlling her notes and adding emotion, but c’mon the song is a major borefest for me. 

 

 

This is the problem, Mai Kuraki is putting out really boring singles…I mean the style hasn’t budged a bit and it’s still R&B to the core.  Tsumetai Umi though was the good A-side but it’s not too high on my favorites.  Start in my life was just so damn boring though…

 

 

 

 

Mai Kuraki – Reach for the sky October 9, 2008

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 12:41 am
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reachforthesky

Track Listing

  1. Reach for the sky
  2. What I feel
  3. Reach for the sky GOMI REMIX
  4. Reach for the sky KEN ISHII REMIX
  5. Reach for the sky DJ HIYOCO REMIX
  6. Reach for the sky ~Instrumental~

1. Reach for the sky

I’m not sure why we’re going back into the lame bland state of R&B.  There was just no spark in this song or anything that really made the song stand out in anyway.  I’m noticing though that Mai is using a lot of vibrato within the song which is pretty shocking since she’s hasn’t relied heavily on it yet.  Still very bland as an A-side goes.

2. What I feel

I actually liked this track more, only because it’s a lot more faster and reminds me of “delicious way” a bit.  It’s quite soothing for being such an upbeat track whichI guess is a good change.  She still needs some English lessons because her accenting is quite harsh on a few stuff.  The guy’s moment though killed the moment altogether because it didn’t make much sense.  Still it’s pretty good

3. Reach for the sky GOMI REMIX

Only reason I’m reviewing this is because it’s on the album.  Already I think this beats out the original by miles.  Giving it a dance style and some guitar to make it sound like it has the feeling of flight in it really gave the song some life.  The 2nd verse sounds totally different sounding a bit more darker, but hops back into the fluffiness of the airy dance sounds.  Awesome remix.

 

 

Mai, I’m starting to dislike your R&B style altogether since you rarely change out of it and sometimes it comes out very bland.  With Reach for the sky, it was boring and not really interesting in terms of overall performance.  What I feel was definitly A-side material and probably would have been the better track.  The remix at least the one I only have was already so much better than the original and I’m happy it was on the album

 

Mai Kuraki – Simply Wonderful September 26, 2008

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 1:56 am
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simplywonderful

Track Listing

  1. Simply Wonderful ~Club Edit~
  2. Simply Wonderful ~Radio Edit~
  3. think about
  4. Baby I Like ~Turn Me On Mix
  5. Simply Wonderful ~Club Edit~ (Instrumental)
  6. Simply Wonderful ~Radio Edit~ (Instrumental)

1. Simply Wonderful ~Club Edit~

 Odd way to start off with a remix version of said  single.  They decided to change the original formula and made it club-friendly.  It does have a 90’s dance sound to it which is pretty cool.  There’s some interesting warping to the notes but at the end of it all, it didn’t really capture the essence of the Radio edit.

2. Simply Wonderful ~Radio Edit~

This was what was put to the PV and I love the whole latin feeling of this track.  The acoustic guitar really stood out and really made the song what it is.  I mean it’s R&B still, but at least Mai is trying to combine which is a smart idea on her part.  The sound is definitly refreshing and as fro her vocals it’s still thin on the higher parts, but that doesn’t really take away from this track.  Awesome.

3. think about

To be honest, I’m not really into her B-sides much and this is another case of bland but stands out in a way track.  It’s definitly an R&B track but I do like her voice in this track.  It’s not really thin and she actually is putting effort in this song.  It’s pretty smooth and made a nice B-side after all.

 

 

Mai’s 1st single for the “Perfect Crime” is definitly a strange one overall.  I mean the two main tracks were well produced and I’m happy for that.  I find it strange to start a single off a remix though, which I don’t know how that decision was made.  Even worse is that “think about” is on the album while Simply Wonderful is shafted and isn’t seen until her “Best of” album comes out….how depressing.

 

Mai Kuraki – delicious way September 17, 2008

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 6:32 pm
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deliciousway

Track Listing

  1. delicious way
  2. Love, Day After Tomorrow
  3. Secret of my heart
  4. Stepping ∞ Out
  5. Baby Tonight~You & Me~
  6. Can’t get enough~gimme your love~
  7. NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP
  8. Stay by my side
  9. Everything’s All Right
  10. happy days
  11. Kimi to no Jikan

1. delicious way

Already we start with a pretty upbeat track.  As it is the title opening track it actually was really catchy.  With a pretty safe beat and Mai’s overall soothing vocals.  The only problem was them background vocals that sounded quite off to me.  I want to say it’s less R&B and leaning more to a pop side.  Why is there a rap section?  Oh well.  A great 1st track.

2. Love, Day After Tomorrow

Now, we enter the debut single from Mai and this is another one of those (I hate BKGD singers) moments.  Mai tries for a deeper tone and she kind of fails being flat and a little boring.  The chorus is entirely in English, but Mai does very little to make herself standout amongst the crowd of other singers.  I do like the R&B music though.

3. Secret of my heart

A little more slower than the previous two, Mai sounds a lot more better here.  The only problem was this song was so boring to me.  There was just nothing to stand out and it was a single for gosh sakes.  There was just no excitement here.  I do like all the synth usage though.

4. Stepping ∞ Out

Taking a more urban feel, this song was another failed track.  Just like “Secret of my heart” this was just so boring and fillerish.  This was just not needed and c’mon Mai, I know you can do so much better, I mean seriously this was just trash.

5. Baby Tonight~You & Me~

Finally, there’s actual hope to the album.  It’s another slower R&B track, but being very basic and pretty soothing.  There’s some interesting stuff like the snapping of fingers that makes the beat.  Mai sounds pretty good singing it in English too which is great.  Soothing for sure.

6. Can’t get enough~gimme your love~

Sadly, we go back to poopy BKGD singers and very dry arrangement of music.  The only interesting thing is that Mai’s voice is either under light vocoder or is being layered.  That is the only thing that kept me interested in the song.  *sigh* Oh yea, rapping section = poor

7. NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP

My favorite single A-side pops up and is still is a better track off this album.  Interesting sounds and taking a part from an 80’s track this song oozes so good.  Mai sounds so mellow and very honest in her vocals.  Mostly a hybrid of English and Japanese I kind of thought her English was alright.  If she sung it now I bet she’d sound perfect.  The whole rapping section between her and Michael Africk was kind random, but kinda kool at the same time….Oh yea, he’s quite the hottie too.

8. Stay by my side

Another A-side comes by and I’m still on edge if I really enjoy it or not.  At one side I do like the smoothness of it all, but on the other side it seems kind of stressed for her and very uncomfortable.  I’m really starting to hate the shuffling and them damn BKGD singers.  I should get used to them though.

9. Everything’s All Right

Good thing this song is on here.  It’s upbeat and has a positive message mostly evident in the chorus.  I wish it was just her again since I’m getting angry.  Still it is her best B-side and I’m happy it’s the only one chosen for it.  Her English is so good here though.  I praise that in her.

10. happy days

I didn’t think much of it until I had to hear it fully and once again it’s very bland and so boring.  For being a song called happy days it’s pretty damn depressing for one.  Whoa, then after the chorus it gets to a pretty frantic part before going soft on us.  That was pretty cool, but I wish it had more pizzaz to it.  Kind of alright song all in all.

11. Kimi to no Jikan

And we finish off the album with another boring R&B ballad.  Except this time it sounds weird.  The piano has some pretty strange chords.  I guess for being the final track, it does its job, but other than that it’s another R&B track that you can pass up entirely.

Tracks Recommended

  • NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP
  • delicious way
  • Everything’s All Right
  • Baby Tonight~You & Me~

Song of Avoidance

  • Stepping ∞ Out

There was bits and pieces I really enjoyed about Mai-K’s debut.  Sadly the rest was so overused and just so bland.  Seriously, she needs to not be so dependent on the BKGD vocalists, it’s really bad.  R&B once again is the majority of the album, luckily it doesn’t stand high to Utada IMO.  If you really like R&B you might find yourself liking this, but for me…just a handful of songs will do for me.